By Ed McLaughlin with Wyn Lydecker
Sometimes coming up with a new strong business idea is harder than developing the business model itself. You want to create a service or product that you believe can be successful. Where do you start? Some ideas are so simple we wonder why nobody thought of them before. But many ideas come simply from going about your everyday life and coming across a problem that could use a disruptive solution.
You see a need for innovation and make your move. For example, people wanted to access videos quickly and easily, rather than going to a store and renting a physical DVD. So Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings disrupted the way Blockbuster’s brick and mortar business worked by founding Netflix and filling a need.
But we don’t all have to come up with the next groundbreaking industry changer. Instead, you can practice incremental innovation by looking for new niches that may not transform the taxi service (Uber) or reinvent the phone (Apple) or change the way people shop (Amazon), but that fill in the gaps. Look at the big players and figure out what is missing. Stephen Key, cofounder of Inventright, a company that helps inventors license their ideas, came up with HotPicks after his friend in the music biz told him that guitar picks had been the same boring pieces of plastic for the past 80 years. So Key took the basic shape of a guitar pick and changed it to the shape of a skull. Now it’s sold in 10,000 stores worldwide including Wal-Mart and 7-Eleven.
Oren Dobronsky needed a better way to get honest feedback from his customers. His friend, Adi Bittan, understood the need immediately and built a tool to fill that need. Together, they founded OwnerListens, a service that puts business owners in touch with their customers in order to both improve their businesses and manage their online reputations. Now, they have thousands of clients across the U.S., including industry giant Whole Foods. Adi agrees that not all startups have to reinvent the wheel. “Sometimes just making an existing idea a little more efficient or cheaper can be enough—provided the market is big enough.”
Fill a Gap
Voices.com, an online marketplace that matches voice actors with advertising agencies and TV and radio stations, was born when David and Stephanie Ciccarelli were brainstorming at their kitchen table. He owned a recording studio and she was a voice-over singer. They realized the future of the voiceover industry was in digital. So from a napkin to one of the fastest growing Canadian businesses, they found a way to fill a gap. David’s advice, “Don’t get focused on the tech or how to dominate the market, just identify a problem and set about solving it.”
Make Your Move
If you are ready to take the step and fulfill your new business vision, The Startup Roadmap is designed for you. For a limited time, you can get a complimentary eCopy of The Startup Roadmap: 21 Steps to Profitability by clicking this link. If you prefer the print edition, you can purchase it directly from Amazon for $9.99.
Once you have read The Startup Roadmap, please let us know what you think by emailing us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ed McLaughlin is currently co-writing the book, The Purpose Is Profit: The Truth about Starting and Building Your Own Business, with Wyn Lydecker and Paul McLaughlin.
Copyright © 2015 by Ed McLaughlin All rights reserved.